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Saturday, October 19, 2013


I have some concerns about the fish we're consuming: 1) Imported, farmed fish from overseas; 2)The Mercury content of certain fish; and 3) Toxic waste, particularly plastic, in our oceans.


CONCERN #1 - FARM-RAISED FISH FROM OVERSEAS (China, Philippines, Indonesia)

Always check with your butcher about the fish with the greatest reputation for clean eating. Buying either fresh or frozen is ok, but always check with your butcher. If you're buying frozen fish at a big box store, read the labels carefully. In some cases, farmed fish raised overseas has raised red flags in terms of what and how the fish were fed and in what kindS of conditions. Reports from overseas indicate a less than healthful environment in terms of overcrowded living conditions and questionable food sources for raising the fish. Workers at these facilities are often required to wear masks because the environment is so toxic it makes workers want to throw up. It's also been reported that there are no overseas food and safety inspectors. It has been reported that some of these fish farms raise their fish on a diet of raw sewage, human or animal feces, and/or chicken poop. In China, it's been reported that cages of chickens are suspended over the fisheries so that the chickens can poop directly into the water where the fish are swimming, eating, pooping and growing. Antibiotics might be used in the fishes' environment to curtail the spread of disease or simply as a preventive measure.

Within shrink-wrapped packages of farmed fish have been reported suspicious black specks that some believe could be fecal bacteria. In any suspicious case, always return the package to the place of purchase and report your concerns to the manager or perhaps write a letter/email to the CEO of the market or big box chain. The question of course is, how does all this affect the nutrient value of the overseas farm raised fish?

With farm-raised fish, look for packages which state "prepared for", "packed by" or "imported by". Always be aware of where the fish was raised, in which part of the world, in which country. If a frozen package of fish leaves any of this information off its labels, put it back in the freezer and tell the manager of the market of your concern. Other than fish raised in Canada or the U.S., I'm avoiding all farmed fish from other countries. Whenever possible, I always look for 'Wild Caught' on the label or ask my butcher which fish was wild caught. It's not a guarantee, mind you, but for me, buying wild caught is usually a better choice than farmed fish.

Eating wild caught fish is getting easier when you go to a restaurant. Most fish restaurants in the U.S. now inform the customer of their fish choices for the day and which ones are wild caught and which ones are farmed. Transparency in product origin is a must if we're to make informed choices.

Be super aware that two of my favorite fishes that I love to eat are affected by overseas farming. The fishes I refer to are 'Farm-Raised Salmon' and 'Farm-Raised Tilapia.' I love the mild flavor of each. However, I now avoid these fish in their farm-raised versions, preferring wild caught fish only.


This affects wild-caught fish, particularly those higher on the food chain because they eat other fish that have eaten other fish that have eaten other fish. Swordfish and, yes, even tuna, have had reports of higher levels of mercury. Wild-caught fish usually has less Mercury. Always ask your butcher so you know what you're feeding your family and yourself.

Do your homework, don't ever listen to me, get your own answers and decide what to eat and what to avoid. The power is in each of us to do what's right for our own bodies. The information is accessible. Educate yourself and find out what's right for you.

I still eat canned tuna. Wild caught albacore tuna is my favorite, but I eat other canned tuna and make sure it has a 'dolphin safe' label on it. Dolphins and tuna are often found swimming together and, in the old days with broad sweeping fisherman's nets, dolphins would be caught in the nets and drown or die an unnatural, painful and unnecessary death. Fishing practices in the U.S. have changed so that risk to the dolphins is now minimized. A 'dolphin safe' label on the can assures the consumer that no dolphins were harmed in the pursuit of a fisherman's catch of tuna. At least we pray that's the assurance.


Anchovy Catfish Clams Pacific Cod Crab Pacific Flatfish Herring Mahimahi Oysters Pacific Pollock Wild Alaskan Salmon and Sardines


Chilean seabass Atlantic Cod Groupers Atlantic Flatfish Halibut Lobster Mackerel Ocean perch Orange roughy Oreo dory Atlantic Pollock Pacific Rockfish Shark Snappers Striped bass Swordfish and Tuna


Fukushima, Japan, is where the nuclear power plant (operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Company) was affected by the March 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami. It's where three nuclear reactors had their meltdown. Japan is currently in the process of decommissioning the plant that will take decades of work. Based on what we know about nuclear waste and how long it will take for an area to recover from this kind of catastrophe, best guesses are that Fukushima will be uninhabitable for maybe 500,000 years, if then. The place is still not secured as Japan still needs to remove radioactive rods that no one really knows what to do with. Maybe rocketing the stuff to the sun might be a future option but for the foreseeable future, barrels and barrels of radiation are still leaking into the surrounding waters and ocean.

Japanese fisherman and their families are suffering. They're being forced to fish further and further away from shore, often 30 miles or more. Every catch has to be tested for radiation. My niece is there right now and there's a general-area warning not to eat the fish because of a "new" leak.

My fear is that, just like ink bleeds and spreads on a napkin, this thing is going to be spreading for the indefinite future. So, I"m wary about fish caught in the Pacific because, heck, I live in California and stuff from the tsunami has been landing all up and down the coast, from Washington state down to California. So, it's just me, but offer me Pacific fish anywhere near the affected area and I'm going to pass.

The shame is, 50 years ago, when nuclear energy was coming into vogue, everyone knew this was a possibility. California now has its own problem in the nuclear power plant in San Onofre, a plant that is now permanently closed. Problem for us, too: How to clean up and secure the permanently toxic area.